Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: How to Rock Braces and Glasses, by Meg Haston (Poppy, 2011)

Recommended for ages 10-13

Eighth grader Kacey Simon doesn't think she's a mean girl, she's just brutally honest like a good journalist should be. Life is pretty good for Kacey until the tables are turned when a series of accidents leave her stuck with glasses and braces. Within a day, she goes from A-list to D-list as her cool girl friends pretend she doesn't exist, she's dropped from her school news segment and the lead in the school play. Her best friend seizes the opportunity to wrest the cool reins and goes on the attack, and a cruel YouTube video makes the rounds in school.

Alone for the first time, Kacey ends up teaming up with a former friend, Paige and emo musician Zander (aka Skinny Jeans) to get her popularity back. Along the way, Kacey learns that she may have been a mean girl after all - or just misunderstood.

The book is shallow, with an unlikeable heroine written to be likeable. Haston's message of being real gets garbled; it's as if the author herself is unsure of whether Kacey's behavior pre-braces is reprehensible or defensible. I did not come away with the true feeling that she learned her lesson at the end of the day; rather, she just learned to find loopholes and how to use people to get her way. It sends out mixed messages.

Tween marketing powerhouse Alloy Entertainment packaged this title and the book has already been optioned to be a new Nickelodeon show, How to Rock, to air in 2012. Author Meg Haston's website links to her blog and information about the book; she also has a Twitter feed. There is also an iTunes app that lets users take photos of themselves or friends and try on different braces and glasses combinations.

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